Joelle Smith has always known she wanted to teach music. She started playing the piano when she was five years old and added the flute in fifth grade.
Smith was hired as the Director of Bands at East High School in Waterloo five years ago. At that time, only 29 students in the 4A school were in band. Now, there are almost 90.
Smith said it isn't easy to grow the program because it requires a big commitment from students.
"In band they have to be invested for four years. Everyday, every semester, and that's a lot of time and you have to be able to sell your program to those students," said Joelle Smith.
The band just wrapped up marching band season, which required students to meet before school, and is now into concert band. Students said Smith is a knowledgeable instructor who also makes band fun.
"We just love being around her. She's not only our band teacher, she's a second parent, a friend. We can go to her with anything," said student Lina Pierson.
Senior Lina Pierson said Smith inspired her to become a band instructor.
"She really helped me pick my career. Seeing what she does, it makes me really want to be a music teacher," said Pierson.
Joelle Smith said she knows not every student will pursue a career in music, but she hopes all her students leave with an appreciation for music.
"Your goal is to just make sure their experience in music in high school is the best, and they will always remember it," said Smith.
Besides nearly tripling membership, students and Smith said the quality of the band is up, too.
Smith said there's still a ways to go to compete with other 4A schools, but she's already choosing more challenging music. She believes the band is starting to hit all the right notes.
The band is preparing for a winter concert on Monday, December 9th at 8 p.m. It's free and open to the public at East High School.